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London judge turns down arrest warrant against Modi
Shyam Bhatia in London |
August 20, 2003 22:09 IST
A London magistrate has turned down an application from human and civil rights activists to issue an arrest warrant for visiting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
District Judge Timothy Workman sitting at Bow Street magistrates' court had earlier heard arguments on behalf of human rights activists led by London-based Suresh Grover that Modi should be arrested because he was directly or indirectly involved in causing 'pain, suffering and torture' to citizens of Gujarat while he was the chief minister.
International solicitor Imran Khan representing Grover and co-petitioners London School of Economics Professor Guatam Appa and activist Jagdish Patel argued that under the International Convention Against Torture and Section 134 of the UK Criminal Justice Act of 1998 any public person could be arrested so long as they were in the UK.
Judge Workman agreed the case could be heard, but said Khan's evidence, based on published reports in the media and Justice Hosbet Suresh's inquiry into Gujarat's communal riots, needed more substance.
Justice Suresh, a retired Mumbai high court judge, had conducted an independent inquiry for some rights body into the riots
His ruling means there is nothing to prevent Modi from leaving London on Thursday as planned for Geneva.
But the petitioners say they intend to take up the judge's offer to return to the court later this week if they can come up with sworn statements from riot victims.
"He has given us permission to come back to court tomorrow or Friday if we are able to produce that evidence," Grover told rediff.com "We are at the moment trying to get statements from people, or people who attended the citizens tribunal hearing (in Gujarat) to see if they would sign a statement by themselves on what they heard from a minister close to Modi."